Donegal fishermen stranded on fishing vessels off African coast

Fishermen forced to remain on boats due to Covid-19 travel restrictions and administration difficulties

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A number of fishermen from Donegal were part of a crew that found themselves stranded off the coast of Africa for several weeks.
They were forced to remain on their fishing vessels because they were unable to get clearance to get to shore and fly home.

The men had been fishing off Mauritantia in western Africa and were aboard boats that form part of the Atlantic Dawn fleet. When their fishing period came to an end recently and they were due to fly home to make way for another crew, the difficulties began.
A spokesperson for Atlantic Dawn said: “Unfortunately like many other businesses in Ireland our operations are affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Our normal scheduled crew changes in Mauritania had to be cancelled due to international travel restrictions in that country.

“When it became apparent that these restrictions were not being eased we made arrangements to sail our vessels to the closest European port so that alternative arrangements could be made to repatriate the crew.”
However, it was not plain sailing for the fishermen involved, who still had a lengthy delay ahead of them.
The Atlantic Dawn spokesperson told the Donegal Democrat: “In order for our vessels to cease operations in Mauritania and exit that fishing zone a number of formalities and clearances are required.
“This is a standard procedure that we have always followed.

Abnormally long delay

“Unfortunately the Covid-19 restrictions have also affected the administration in Mauritania causing an abnormally long delay in processing the formalities.
“We are however pleased that the matter is now concluded.
“As soon as our catch is discharged we will sail our vessels to Las Palmas where we will arrange the crew's onward travel home.

“I do wish to clarify that at no time has our crew suffered a lack of supplies. On the contrary the comfort, safety and welfare of our crew is of paramount importance to our company.”

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